Webb v. Illinois Central Railroad Company

PETITIONER: Webb
RESPONDENT: Illinois Central Railroad Company
LOCATION: Congress

DOCKET NO.: 42
DECIDED BY:
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 352 US 512 (1957)
ARGUED: Dec 03, 1956
DECIDED: Feb 25, 1957

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Webb v. Illinois Central Railroad Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 03, 1956 in Webb v. Illinois Central Railroad Company

Earl Warren:

-- John W. Webb versus (Inaudible).

Mr. Rafferty --

Robert J. Rafferty:

Thank you, Your Honor.

Earl Warren:

-- you may proceed.

Robert J. Rafferty:

May it please the Court.

This matter comes before Your Honors on a writ of certiorari directed to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

The petitioner, Mr. John Webb, was the plaintiff in an action brought in the Federal District Court in Chicago under the Federal Employers' Liability Act against his employer, the Illinois Central Railroad Company.

A jury returned the verdict in his favor in the amount of $15,000.

The respondent or defendant filed the usual post-trial motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and for a new trial, both of which were denied.

And the railroad then took an appeal to the Court of Appeals which reversed the judgment of the trial court and directed that judgment be entered in favor of the railroad.

Mr. Webb, the petitioner was, at the time of the accident, a brakeman in the employment of the railroad, had been employed either in that capacity or as the section hand for approximately 25 years.

On July 2nd, 1952, his duties took him together with the members of his train crew to the community of Mount Olive, Illinois.

And at that point, Your Honors, there are certain tracks which are involved in this case in which are referred to in the Court of Appeals' opinion.

If I may direct your attention to a photograph at page 112 of the record, it shows the track layout at the -- quite in question.This document was the defendant's exhibit which was submitted by agreement.

To the left to the telephone pole, Your Honors will see a track which is the I.C. main line track.

The track in the foreground -- incidentally, you're looking at the picture, you are looking north.

The track in the foreground which shows a switch lever and switch stand to the north of the stand is referred to in the record as the passing track.

And to the south of the stand, it's referred to as the I.C. house track.

This is connected with the I.C. main line track by a crossover switch.

To the right is the track of a separate railroad, the L.& N. Railroad and Your Honors will note that it is also connected with the I.C. passing track and the I.C. house track.

It's a little difficult to see that approximately six thigh length to the south of the switch stand is a small X and that is the point of the accident in this case.

Mr. Webb, on July 2nd, 1952 was standing at a point approximately 15 or 20 feet south of the house track switch when he observed a box car leaking green, and it was his duty to plug up that leak if possible.

And for that purpose, it was his intention to go back to the caboose and get a handful of ways to use to plug up this hole.

He turned about and according to his testimony he took one step, he put down his left foot.The left foot was caused to roll underneath him.

He lost his balance.

He fell down.

And on the ground, he observed what had caused him to fall.

It was the clinker which he described as about this size in appearance.

He stated that at that time he observed a hole indicating where the clinker had been before.

And he testified that the roadbed was soft and left footprints as he walked in it.